Us vs AI? It Will Never Really Be Designers vs AI

by Rhiana-Deen Robinson-Hine, Junior Creative at Checkland Kindleysides

It’s fair to say that fear about the future is a thing. In fact, I wouldn’t blame anyone for being permanent state of anticipatory anxiety. This even applies to the world of design where articles about the rise of AI or AI replacing design are starting to appear more regularly.

In general 38% of people expect technology to eliminate jobs at their workplace over the next three years, while 13% expect automation to eliminate a significant number of positions. Pre pandemic, 90% of goods purchased globally were done so in a physical store.  With a hesitance for people to head back to bricks and mortar spaces, do we as designers need to feel that same threat from AI? 

Not at all. I won’t be against it but work with it. As a recent graduate there are so many exciting angles it presents.  For my final year project, which won best future focused project, I imagined a fully immersive retail experience centred around skincare.  I wanted to show how AI could benefit the product selection process whilst building a relationship between brand and consumer.  

I’m excited by how we can utilise AI not just now, but as it develops in the future.  

But AI is inspired by human behaviour. At the end of the day, every design we do from our studio is fundamentally led by the consumer and the culture we’re designing IN and FOR. AI does not recognise a shift in cultural demands – only humans can do this. As humans change and evolve over time, so do the demands upon a retail landscape. The in-store consumer experience needs to be better than it’s ever been before – more exciting, more instagrammable, more momentous, engaging, memorable; driving a customer loyalty for a sense of return. Because it’s ever changing, AI will only complement by speeding things up; creating designs faster and potentially in a more cost effective way. Technology has long been able to interpret volumes of information in speed; processing data humans are not able to process quickly enough. Using AI in design means AI can make design adjustments to prototypes accordingly, quickly.   

We as humans have the opportunity to influence the progression of AI in design and be that human element which can improve it. I don’t believe there’s a fear or concern about AI algorithms replacing the human input in the creative process as every project we embark on is completely different and unique.  

AI has to enhance customer experience which is something we’ll always be excited by as we develop ever more innovative ideas to engage people and realise branding in the physical world. 

Product selection 

It provides a level of ease with product selection. By using AI we can aid the selection process and enhance personal experience between consumers and brands. AI offers the whole world the opportunity to close the gap between the customer and the product. Designers are essential to be the conductor between the two. 

Fitting rooms 

Let’s take the example of an interactive fitting room that uses AI. It not only enhances consumer experience improving the way they see themselves and staff – the staff member in turn can utilise AI to track and source products to help to find the right size fit style recommendations and bring it direct to the fitting room. Farfetch have adopted AI into their new Store of the Future. Customers are able to login with their smartphones on entry to the store , the ‘connected clothing rack’ will record items customers select in store, entering them into a smartphone app. Smart mirrors allow shoppers to request items in alternative sizes and colours as well as pay without leaving the dressing room. Farfetch have also introduced a holographic display that offers consumers the opportunity to create and order shoes completely customisable with varieties of leathers and colours. 

Personal preference identification 

AI can also be used to identify personal preferences, using GAN (generative adversarial network) technology to identify personal styles to assess what you are wearing for example on entry into store, and make recommendations based on that data or direct to where you can find items that best represent you.   

Complements AR 

The use of augmented reality can complement AI by creating interactive experiences in the real word. It starts to blur the line between the real and the virtual and there are clever ways of thinking about how this might be linked to a brands consumer membership programme.  

Every time we do more, we learn more. AI is an opportunity for us to grow as designers and in introducing it we can drive efficiency in the creative process when introducing it into the design process.  

However, AI will never replace human originality. Every project we work on as designers is completely different and unique.

For example, we’re aware of some of the latest AI GAN (generative adversarial network). To the laymen out there,  that’s technology that is capable of identifying creative styles and forms and reproducing that particular style in with such accuracy that to the untrained eye you would be hard pressed to spot the difference. 

But the origination of that creative, will always require that human element to create something of true originality, with more soul, depth and meaning. We also believe there is a need for human interaction between creative and client, making the creative process more collaborative which could be lost or distilled if purely left to AI.   

AI is a collaborative effort  

I’ve learned that architectural practices have been the pioneers of incorporating AI as part of their creative process for a number of years now, allowing algorithms to generate creative platforms around specific briefs. The output is still very much driven as a co-creative process between the human mind and AI, using it as a tool and aid rather than the solution. 

There is a need for human interaction between creative and client making the creative process more collaborative, which could be lost or distilled if purely left to AI.  

In conclusion AI is about providing added value to what we do and enhancing our offer as a creative agency NOT replacing it. I do not see AI technology as a replacement for the art of design but an additive tool.  I can see how it can benefit both our working process and our creative output, providing added value to what we do and what we offer to our clients.  

It’s such an exciting time to be in industry, we have the opportunity to influence the progression of AI in design and be that human element. 

by Rhiana-Deen Robinson-Hine, Junior Creative at Checkland Kindleysides

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